Tree Workshop 

I had attended a tree workshop about 20 years ago when I lived in the Wairarapa; and elements of it had really stuck with me since that time. I felt it would fit well with the Grove of the Summer Stars camp; as it encompassed Head, Hands, Heart and Hallows. As a newby with the Grove of the Summer Stars, I wanted to contribute something. As I’m less of a singer or storyteller (so far!) a Tree Workshop seemed like a perfect thing for me to share with other Druids.

Head:

As an introduction to the Tree workshop group members took a few minutes to think about why trees were important to them.

We then shared the large number of responses, which included:

friends, heritage, family tree, past & future, longevity, joy of listening to their wisdom, calming, strength, nurturing, can create from them – wand/staff/drawing/weaving, housing/shelter (birds, insects, us), Dru = ‘of the Oak’, food for lowest to most complex lifeforms, healing, beauty, convert air so we can breathe, magic, fuel – fire, heat/warmth, chemical processes,Green = Heart energy, protect, forest intelligence, Papatuanuku’s cloak, floats/burns – make things with it, leaves (like books), stops erosion, brings water, harmony/balance, help to loose our sense of separation, sacred trees, different trees have different personalities, joy – a gift to share, gift of spirit, climb it, wear it…

I think it might have been at this part of the workshop when we had a brief visit from a dragonfly, which we took as a good omen for the both workshop and the retreat!

Hands:

The next activity was to draw a tree, (but not from life) free hand. Once drawn, we spent some time analysing the characteristics of the trees people himg_0612ad drawn, which could intuitively represent aspects of themselves. The group then split into pairs to discuss their findings. Some very animated and enthusiastic discussions ensued.There was also some friendly competition between some participants, to see who had the most tree ‘accessories’ e.g. a mushroom, swing, child, fairy, snail, etc…!
Hallows:

I then led the group in a guided meditation, where they visited their sacred Grove, but on this occasion there was an additional tree waiting for them at the centre of their Grove, which had a message, energy or blessing to share. There was less discussion following the completion of the meditation; as the participants found something personal and profound to take with them through the rest of the day.
Heart:

One of the biggest impressions I had taken from the tree workshop I attended so long ago, was the memory of a delightful character known as ‘the man of the trees’.

Richard St.Barbe Baker (Born: October 9, 1889 – Died: June 9, 1982), was a gentlemanly character, passionate about trees – who encouraged the planting of trees all over the world, and in NZ.

He also credited trees with keeping him in good health for much of his life, and suggested one could put their hands on a tree to receive energy. We watched NZ On Screen’s 1981 video documentary (about 20 minutes) about him and his work. This video is available online at this link: https://www.nzonscreen.com/embed/9d1aad49d6394f84

In addition, there are several web articles about Richard St.Barbe Baker available online if you do a Google search.

We ended by having a play with my tree oracle and runes.

– Claire

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Lughnasadh Camp 2017

Last weekend we had our annual Lughnasadh Druid Camp. We say that Camp starts on Friday, but really it starts on the Thursday as we all troop in to set up tents, pick up the shopping (which was ordered online this year!), unpack it and set up the kitchen in the barn. This year we had delicious meals cooked by our wonderful Joarn and Martha.

Camp always has a theme and this year wimg_4273as Head, Hands, Heart and Hallows. Every morning we start with a camp meeting, where we each share a word for the day, we chant Awens and go over the plan for the day.

Friday was our Head day, were we got to put our thinking caps on! We started by having a opening ritual which naturally went over time so we pushed back the tree workshop we had planned. The great thing about this year’s camp was all the gaps we left in the roster so we could be flexible (and have time for naps.) I won’t say much about the tree workshop because that will be a post for another day. It was a great starting workshop that helped us find a tree each for camp. We ended this day with a Eisteddfod about the meaning of The Druid’s Prayer which led to lots of meaningful debate and a greater understanding for all.

Saturday was our Hands day. Before we could get started using our hands we had a Skype call with Philip Carr-Gomm so he could give us his thoughts on The Druid’s Prayer which created further discussion and understanding of the prayer. There were lots of creative activities for us to set our hands to, wood carving, fibre weaving, painting, drawing, Harakeke weaving, bread making and crocheting! I had set out to learn to crochet. With lots of help and support from many of the other ladies at camp I learnt to crochet one granny square but came away with half a blanket thanks to the generosity of those who could already crochet!

Saturday evening we had much delight having a sing along of many of our songs. Some of these we recorded. You can hear our song Lugh that our talented band leader, Moria, wrote by going here or listen to it below.

Of course, a camp sing along wouldn’t be complete without a short telling of Bob the Sheep God before we sung our Bob version of Lugh. Bob has become one of my favourite camp traditions as it is full of inside jokes. It is a story about the creation of myths and legends that has taken on a life of its own. It is also extremely ridiculous, giving us all a good laimg_4260ugh.

Sunday was our Heart day. We celebrated Lughnasadah with a ritual. Unfortunately we had to have this inside because the wind, which had blown down all the tents during the night, had blown over a ‘sacred’ gorse tree onto the path way to the Grove! After our ritual, and a delicious lunch, we had a Poetry and Prose writing workshop to get us all connected to the heart of story telling, and seeing how easy it can be to get words flowing through us. We continued this story telling on at our evening Eisteddfod where we played a story telling game.

Hallows day was on our last day, Monday. In the morning we had a beautiful sharing circle about death and entering the Summerlands. This was followed by a discussion on how to be practical and prepared in the lead up to entering the Summerlands. Here are some links to the documents that were discussed:

That evening we had a Eisteddfod discussion on where you believe your power is coming from when you do your working. It was proposed that there was two different ways of believing where the energy comes from and that neither is wrong. It was an enlightening discussion that helped us think about our own beliefs and practices.

After Eisteddfod we trekked out to the Grove to preform the closing ceremony, as the sun died down for the day which seemed very fitting.

On Tuesday morning we packed up, with the knowledge that it was our last camp for a couple of years. According to our fabulous planner Nicola it was the fastest pack up ever. I love camp, but it will be exciting to spend time developing the endeavours we are looking to spend our time on in the future.

~ Mary

The Heart of Camp

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Around this time of year we begin to seriously prepare for our annual Lunasdagh Druid Camp. I have attended camp the last 5 years and I look forward to it every year.

Camp is held for 4 or so days during Wellington Anniversary weekend. I have learnt to take the day before off to prepare and pack in. At camp, everyone takes time to listen to each other and share opinions thoughtfully in a way that unfortunately doesn’t often happen in our day to day lives, so after a nasty culture shock going back to work after camp I have learnt to take a day off afterwards too.

At our camp we have work shops centred on a chosen theme. On one of the evenings during camp we usually have time to share stories. I love how over the years some of these stories have grown and become a part of our Grove story. And I look forward to adding to them at our coming camp.

At our camp opening we light a candle. We keep this flame alight until our closing ceremony at the end of camp. I have always loved that we do this, and enjoy spending time watching as the candle burns bright during the night. Last year we lit our own candles from the camp candle each day and placed it around in a star shape (photograph above). This was an addition to our camp candle that I hope we carry with us as it was beautiful.

Every morning we start the day with a meeting, where we all say a word on how we are feeling so we can check in with each other. This is a beautiful way to start the day, listening to each other and knowing we are being heard. It helps set the tone for the rest of the day of sharing and learning.

The theme we are working with for next year has me pretty excited, and I am sure we will write some blog post of some of our activities, so watch this space.

– Mary